A large dining establishment in the center of Moscow reportedly became the first restaurant to accept bitcoin payments in Russia’s capital city on Tuesday, according to local media outlets. Valenok is part of the Novikov Group, which owns over 50 restaurants and franchises. Now the company is considering installing bitcoin ATMs as well.
First Restaurant to Accept Bitcoin in Moscow
On Tuesday, several Russian news outlets reported that Valenok has become the first restaurant in Moscow to accept bitcoin.
Named after the traditional Russian type of footwear, Valenok is symbolized by the world’s largest handmade felt boot, its website details. “A symbol of the restaurant is a giant six-meter felt boot (Valenok).” The Russian cuisine restaurant is located on the Tsvetnoy Boulevard in the center of Moscow. The spacious establishment occupies 2 floors, seats 340 people, and an average main course there costs about $10.
Valenok is part of the Novikov Group which owns over 50 eatery projects, including restaurants and several franchises, located in Russia, London, and Dubai.
Mikhail Petuhov, managing partner at Novikov Group, told BFM.ru that his customers are young, modern and sophisticated. He described the time he was asked by a friend why his restaurant did not accept bitcoin so he decided to try it out. Two transactions were made, which was exciting, the publication reported him saying. “In the restaurant business, I had not heard of such examples. So, there is no one to ask, unfortunately,” he added.
Petuhov explained how bitcoin payments work at his restaurant: “The seller generates a QR-code that contains the amount to be paid and the seller’s wallet address. The buyer scans this code using his Bitcoin smartphone app and makes the transaction.”
Citing that the restaurant will closely monitor the demand for bitcoin services, he added that the group is also considering installing bitcoin ATMs “to assist the clients wishing to make payments using the cryptocurrency,” RT reported. Petuhov told Russia’s international news agency RIA Novosti:
We want to keep pace with the time. If there is a demand from guests for payment with bitcoin, we will even install special ATMs to exchange bitcoins for providing the proper level of service to our guests.
Soon after Valenok’s news, Burger King Russia independently announced its plan to accept the digital currency this year, with the possibility of rolling out the option to more restaurants. The fast food chain has begun looking for a software developer to allow users to pay with bitcoin using both Android and iOS applications.
Novikov Group’s Restaurants and Projects
The Novikov Group, founded by entrepreneur restaurateur, Arkady Anatolievich Novikov, owns more than 50 successful conceptual restaurant projects in Russian cities of Moscow, St. Petersburg, Sochi, and Kislovodsk as well as in London and Dubai, its website details.
The projects that the group is involved in include several franchises with multiple locations as well. For example, Krispy Kreme is counted as one project but the company owns over 20 locations. In September 2013, the group partnered with Krispy Kreme Doughnut Corporation to build 40 Krispy Kreme stores in Moscow.
In addition, the group also runs other types of projects such as Novikov TV, a network of flower studios, a health food company, a greenhouse farm, a charity foundation, a kids club, and a catering business.
Bitcoin in Russia
Digital currencies including bitcoin are still not recognized by the central bank of Russia, and the legal status of bitcoin has not yet been clarified. However, State Duma committee member Vadim Dengin told RIA Novosti on Wednesday that draft laws concerning digital currencies could appear soon.
“We will hold roundtable discussions and parliamentary hearings on digital currencies, particularly bitcoin,” he said, adding that there is no need to legalize digital currencies right now.
Meanwhile, the head of the State Duma Committee on Economic Policy, Sergei Zhigarev, separately told the publication that the restaurant’s case “demonstrates that life now includes digital currency, and that it has to be taken into account, including in the state calculation.” He then added (loosely translated):
Of course, there is nothing illegal in this (payment by bitcoin). This is quite an objective reality, which must be taken into account. To date, there are questions about its regulation, but it is backed by demand.